“Perfect Polyphony” [TrackList follows] – Tallis Scholars/ Peter Phillips – Gimell (2 CDs)

by | Oct 16, 2015 | Classical CD Reviews

“Perfect Polyphony” [TrackList follows] – Tallis Scholars/ Peter Phillips – Gimell CDGIM 213 (2 CDs), 156 min. [Distr. By Harmonia mundi] ****:

In celebration of the Tallis Scholars’s 2000th concert on September 21, 2015, Gimell has released this two-disc set of compositions that according to Peter Phillips, “have thrilled me over the years.” In other words, this is yet another “greatest hits” release with the premise being the founding conductor’s favorite moments from what by any measure has been an astoundingly productive, informative, and musically impeccable career. I have said it before—there is no period choral group that has consistently produced as many important and enlightening discs as the Tallis Scholars, and as far as I am concerned, they still lead the pack in setting standards even though their initial appearance has inspired a plethora of ensembles following in their footsteps. Without them, the progress of early music knowledge and performance would have been far less impressive.

The recordings range from the 1987 Gesualdo to the Des Prez from 2011, and no real surprises with perhaps the exception of the Lamentations of Jeremiah by Alfonso Ferrabosco (1542-88), obviously a very personal choice of Peter Phillips, as the others are no mystery to most early music aficionados. Nothing has been remastered (the sound was always state of the art even way back when) and the choral work is nothing short of miraculous, especially considering the turnover the group has seen over the years, surely a testament to Phillip’s exceptional abilities as mentor and conductor.


Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli
Victoria: Versa est in luctum
Gesualdo: Ave, dulcissima Maria
Mouton: Salva nos, Domine
Mouton: Ave Maria…virgo serena
Gombert: Magnificat 6 (sexti & primi toni)
Browne: Stabat iuxta
Tallis: Lamentations of Jeremiah I & II
Brumel: Lamentations of Jeremiah
Ferrabosco: Lamentations of Jeremiah
Isaac: Optime pastor
Josquin: Missa Ave maris stella

—Steven Ritter

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